Of Treatment Systems and Depression

An Overview of Quality-Improvement Opportunities in Hospital-Based Psychiatric Care

Published in: Harvard Review of Psychiatry, v. 14, no. 4, July-Aug. 2006, p. 195-203

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Michael D. Greenberg, Harold Alan Pincus, Frank A. Ghinassi

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A clinical perspective on depression tends to focus on therapy and on medications or psychological interventions that may be helpful to individual patients. A broader view on the treatment enterprise, however, suggests that there are other dimensions to treatment and that opportunities for improving the quality of care and patient outcomes are not limited to innovation in therapeutics. This article examines several of the nonclinical facets of inpatient care, using the frame of a conceptual pyramid to explore the relationships between therapy and its professional, organizational, care-management, and economic concomitants. By drawing on a conceptual pyramid that elucidates several nonclinical dimensions of inpatient treatment for depression, the authors describe the potential for corresponding quality improvement activities among psychiatric providers. The pyramid suggests that there are multiple opportunities for future interventions to promote quality in inpatient psychiatric care, that those opportunities are considerably more varied than a purely clinical perspective might recognize, and that interventions in nonclinical aspects of the treatment system have the potential to cascade downward to affect clinical outcomes over time.

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